My first week with the bullet journal.

My first week with the bullet journal.

Bullet journaling has been on my radar for a while now. This analog method of keeping one’s life organized seemed like just the sort of thing I would love, and it’s not that different from how I’ve been keeping track of the balls in the air lately, but I stillfound the whole process super intimidating.

I thought I might enjoy using a bullet journal, but I dreaded the idea of learning to use a bullet journal.

After procrastinating on this for months (or maybe years) I finally devised a plan that appealed to my inner stationery addict: I ordered a new beautiful notebook and put a start date on my calendar.

That just happened. Like, a week ago. I’m no expert, but the experience of what it’s like to get started with bullet journaling is still fresh in my mind.

bullet journal daily list

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Jump in. If you wait until you feel like you know how to do this thing before you start, you’ll never start. This is one area where you must learn by doing.

2. It’s okay to start with the good stuff. Many bullet journalers advocate starting with a cheap spiral notebook so they don’t wreck their “nice” journal. I see the wisdom in this approach. But I didn’t follow it.

I love nice journals, and the idea of starting with a 50-cent notebook from Target held zero appeal. I think that’s one of the reasons I procrastinated on this thing for so long. Once I ordered a nice journal, I was eager to put it to good use—even if it meant making a few mistakes along the way.

About that journal: I ordered a Leuchtturm 1917, dotted, in navy. (I wanted anything but black, so I didn’t get my bullet journal confused with other notebooks and journals already in use at my house.)

I always have a nice supply of pens on hand. My favorites for the last few years have been these Staedtler fineliners.

bullet journal monthly close up horizontal

3. Keep it simple. When I began, I only began with three things: I sketched out a one-page monthly log, a two-page future log, and that day’s daily log. (The links below will explain what those things mean.)

You’ll quickly learn what works for you: I didn’t think I would want a monthly to-do list, but I keep thinking of stuff I’d add to it if I’d made one. Next month, I’ll create a monthly to-do list to go with that monthly log.

4. Add things slowly. My first “extra,” in addition to the monthly calendar, future log, and daily log, was a chart to track my workouts. I re-established my relationship with P90X3 last week, and I knew from experience that I had a hard time with the tracking, and tended to lose my logsheet. So I pulled out some pens and a ruler and copied the workout chart straight into my bullet journal.

I added my first “collection” shortly thereafter. I was at the library doing some research when I came across the name of a movie I wanted to watch. Where am I going to write this down? I thought. Or maybe I should just email it to myself. And then I realized: this is exactly what “collections” are for in the bullet journal. And so I made one, not because I was eager to add another layer of complexity to my bullet journal, but because the system is designed to track and hold exactly that kind of information, and it was time to put it to use.

bullet journal p90x3 page horizontal

5. What you need will become clear. After a few days of using the journal, I realized I was really missing one thing I loved and relied on from my old cobbled-together day sheet system, and it was the rough blog plan for the week ahead I recopied each day, as it evolved, onto a fresh day sheet.

6. Get inspired. There’s so much practical and inspiring bullet journal info on the web. Find some inspiration—but try to stop yourself before you get overwhelmed. These were my favorite resources for getting started:

How to bullet journal at the Lazy Genius Collective
How I use my bullet journal at the Art of Simple
Two words: bullet journal at Carrie Willard’s blog. (I especially like her habit tracker, similar to the one shown here.)

I looked at a slew of weekly layout ideas on the web, and couldn’t find any layout that did what I wanted it to do … so I made my own, and it works beautifully. I may tweak it as time goes on, and the bullet journal gives me the flexibility to do that.

I’m only one week in, and I still have lots to learn. But my first week of bullet journaling has gone wonderfully well, and the whole process has been so much smoother and less-overwhelming than I thought it would be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the bullet journal system in comments. I’d especially like to hear your best tips, tricks, and tutorials for getting the hang of it. 

P.S. You can now purchase my Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers webinar and a Reading Journal Kit!

My first week with the bullet journal, plus tips for getting started yourself.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someonePrint this page

131 comments

  1. Amanda says:

    I started using a bullet journal last year. I love it! I wear so many hats each day, and my thoughts and ideas can be very random, so this is the perfect system for me. After a few months with my bullet journal, I meshed that system with the traveler’s notebook system, and it’s the perfect blend for me. It’s definitely one thing that’s saving my life right now!

  2. Kate says:

    So much fun! I started a bullet journal about a year and a half ago. Pretty notebooks & good pens are a must – I attach colorful silk ribbons as page markers and it makes me happy every time I look at it. The great thing about bullet journaling is that you can keep what works and drop what doesn’t – my system has morphed over time and I’m sure it will continue to do so. I even taught my mom how to use a bullet journal. I hope you enjoy using it as much as I do, Anne 🙂

  3. Kathryn says:

    I saw your post and it spiraled me off into a journey I haven’t stopped yet. I am loving this new analog system. I chose to just work from the journal I had already been riding in instead of purchasing something new. I clamped all the old pages together instead of my index right in the middle of my book. Not very pretty, but it was better than putting off starting until I have everything right. I will be ordering that same dot notebook as soon as these pages are filled. Right now I have gone overboard with the collections and thoughts, but I feel like I need to get it out of my system which is the function of the journal anyway. I think moving forward I will probably do less and less. But it is good to document all of the things in quirks about my personality as first and foremost this is my journal. Thanks for the tip. I love it

  4. Jessica says:

    I’ve been playing around with using an Arc notebook from Staples. It has the round disc binding that makes it easy to move pages around and take pages out. I don’t like the idea of carrying around my calendar from last week etc. I want those old pages gone. I’m more flirting with the concept than actually committing.

    • Erica says:

      Megan,
      I started a bullet journal a little bit ago. I still keep my online calendar. I work remotely, so my company requires it so they can see when I’m free/busy to schedule conference calls. I also still like getting reminders on my phone for events 30 minutes before (how my online calendar is set up). I use my online calendar to transfer events/meetings into my monthly log or future log in the bullet journal.

      I stopped using my print planner. I shoved it in a drawer – not fully wanting to part with it just in case the bullet journal didn’t work out for me. But I can confidently say now that I won’t be going back to my print planner.

      • Very helpful! Thank you. I will read the other posts Anne linked to and learn more. I haven’t fully embraced my online calendar, but I find myself not opening my paper planner because I know it’s not really working for me.

    • Denise says:

      My Target has a VERY small selection of Staedtler pens, as in two different sets, a 4 pen neon set and a 12 pen set. The sets are about a dollar a pen. For anyone who wants them TODAY it may be worth checking there.

  5. Amber says:

    I decided to do a bullet journal this year instead of a planner. I’m loving it but it’s not perfect. Excited to check out the ideas and resources in this post! Thanks!

  6. Marie says:

    I already use systems on my iPhone which I love but I’m frustrated when things disappear. My children have two doc appointments this week that have disappeared and I have no idea what the times are. Put that at the top of my to do list today! I’ll give it a try as it was a looks like fun.

  7. I started bullet journaling a year ago after I heard about it through author Kate Messner (who can pretty much do 100 things at once beautifully). My system is simple: a to-do list for the month and a place to write down anything I need to remember or work on. I still use my calendar on a daily basis, but I really appreciate seeing my month laid out this way.

    Here’s a post I wrote about my journal: http://carolinestarrrose.com/bullet-journaling-my-way-through-may/

  8. Jenn says:

    I love the idea of a Bullet Journal… so I got myself a new Moleskine notebook (I’m a sucker FULL of excuses to buy a new notebook! Hee hee…) 😛 and I started trying out some of the things I’d seen on Pinterest.

    First thing I did, though, was take the advice to add a few pages for my “Index”… and then to number pages 1-50 of the journal/notebook. I wanted to get in the habit of having an index so I could find things easier. And, I’m glad I did, because I’m not really using the thing for keeping track of my days any more — lol (that didn’t last long!) — and I’m using it more for “collections” than anything. Oh well. Still practicing to see what works for me… I DO like the full month on one page thing, though. I’m using that each month. 🙂

  9. Oh my goodness! Last week was my first week with the bullet journal too, and I relate to everything you said. Jumping in is the best advice. I wasn’t intimidated by doing it but by learning how to do it. It’s an experiment for me, but so far so good. I love how I can make it work for me however I want.

  10. Courtney says:

    I started using a bullet journal last summer and I love it. My favorite part is that it is so customizable–it can be anything you want it to be. Some months, I record TONS of information and some months I don’t have so much. Love your layout, though, and your weekly blog planner!

  11. Meghan says:

    I love bullet journaling, and it’s so fun to see how people make it their own. Totally agree with you on starting with good materials. I use a Foxy Notebook (similar to the Midori system) so my collections are in a small book of their own, and my logs and trackers are in a separate one, since I don’t have loads of collections. And I keep my dailies in my planner, because I still have about 200 pages left in it, ha. It also helps me focus to keep them separate from the rest of the week and month. I have a spread for meal planning and grocery shopping to help me keep straight what’s coming in the week’s CSA box, and I just use washi to tape my grocery list to the page so I can pull it out at the store. And as an actual indexer (someone who writes the indexes for nonfiction books), I call the list at the beginning a Table of Contents, since that’s what it really is 😉

      • Meghan says:

        Ha, it *is* amazing! I get nonfiction books (on subjects anywhere from psychology to political science to computer programming) from the publisher just a few weeks before they go to press (page numbers have to be final), and then I read the book and figure out how to basically recreate it topically. It’s like a big puzzle, teasing out what the book’s actually about and how each topic relates (or doesn’t) to another. I was a librarian in a pre-kid life, so it’s a great fit. asindexing.org is the US professional association, if you or anyone else is interested in more info!

        • Jules says:

          Thanks for the reply Meghan, as a former librarian and journalist I am ashamed to say I never considered how the tables of content were created. I am in awe of your ability to read such diverse material and process it in so much detail. I shall never look on that information in the same way again 🙂

        • Tracy says:

          Meghan–I am so glad you talked about your profession! I am a cataloger and this sounds like an interesting related career to explore.

  12. Karen says:

    I have loved the idea for sometime, but I am where you were at, I just can’t get myself to learn it, so for this week, going to your links is on my to do list. I can do this because I already do collections but I use Evernote for that.

  13. Jennifer Arrington says:

    I don’t use a bullet journal yet, but I did come up with an idea based on the bullet journal to help me with my home. I bought a journal I loved (knowing as well a 50cent notebook would never inspire me), created a table of contents in the front then numbered off 100 pages. In my table of contents is a list of every room in my home that I’d like to decorate and a list of areas outside of my home I want to spruce up. I gave each area a starting page number. Now when I think of something I want to add to my bathroom or a plant I would enjoy looking at in a particular area of my yard, I open my pretty journal and write in it with my pretty pens. So when it comes time to work on that area, I have all my ideas in one beautiful place. I hope this works, we’ve been in this house for 2 years and I’m ready to make it our comfy home.

    • Heather Braun says:

      I love this idea, thanks for sharing it. We have been in our house for 19 years, and believe me when I say it never ends, the decorating, renovating, and re-organizing. To say nothing of the yard and garden. I am going to get a new notebook (to add to my big collection) and begin keeping track room by room also.
      Anne, I like the concept of the bullet journal. I have been using my phone as a way to keep track of stuff, but I also like to look at a hard copy. I may have to try this, as my notebooks tend to be disorganized. Thanks!

  14. Heather says:

    Bullet journaling is so fascinating! I feel like I do some of these things electronically using Evernote, which I use a ton, and Wunderlist. But the idea of getting back to paper is kind of fun.

  15. Helen says:

    I used to journal everything, but as my digital calendar became so easy to sync across the three devices I use in a day (phone, computer, iPad), I lost the motivation to keep track of life by writing things down. I keep my shopping list going on my phone, keep menus on Evernote, along with lists of books I read. However with all these easy ways to keep everything digitized I have such fear that one day I will lose it all by some terrible hacking episode, or Google Cloud meltdown.
    I love all these ideas and hope to “get back to paper” very soon. You all have inspired me!

  16. Deauna says:

    This post has given me my entire life. I was just trying to figure out the best way to see everything visually without being tied to my phone and tablet ALL THE TIME! I’m going to repurpose a small three-ring binder I currently have and just print dotted paper. Thanks!

  17. Michelle Waite says:

    I started my bullet journal last week. I am using it as a creative outlet, as well as a time management tool. I bought some washi tape, to decorate the page, and checked out a book on lettering from the library. I am having fun using the journal.

  18. Kaitlyn says:

    I heard about bullet journals years ago but have also felt intimidated to try them out. Mostly because I don’t really like the weekly layout for the “official” bullet journal. I’d be interested to see what you are doing for your weeks, Anne—and does anyone else have any recommendations or tips?

    • Anne says:

      I may put a photo over on instagram. But I’ll need to wait a week because I don’t want to post the whole schedule of coming blog posts a week early! 🙂

  19. I love hearing what other people thought of the bullet journal, especially since I hated it. It wasn’t visual enough for me—the calendar pages really didn’t work for me, and the idea of creating an index felt like useless busy work. My bullet journal as it exists now is basically just a collection of collections. I use it to house and organize my many ideas for the blog and the business, but it didn’t become the catch-all resource I was hoping it would be.

    • ktbug says:

      The lack of a visual, squares-with-numbers-and-days calendar concerns me…I like the idea of a catch all but I need a bit more structure for each month. I’ve been playing with the Staples arc system because it is also “customizable” but it is still not right. Maybe I can morph the two…

  20. Lindsay says:

    I just started bullet journaling last week too! I have a separate calendar and planner for homeschooling but the bullet journal is helping me organize my thoughts and my brain already feels less scattered. I like the idea of adding the workout plan. I’m working my way through T25 and always forget to mark off my chart. Some additional lists I’ve started in my journal are books to read 😉, house projects, and homeschool curriculum to buy for next year.

  21. MJ says:

    I started my bullet journal about 1 month ago, seduced by the promise of no more loose notes all over the place. I used a nice journal that I already had as I wanted to just jump in. I already use a daytimer so I skipped the “month at a glance” feature.
    It’s weird but just yesterday I was thinking that I needed a system such as the weekly layout that you linked to. One thing I didn’t like was the idea of writing each task/event/whatever the night before so you had enough space. It meant that if I thought of some random thought I needed to hold it in my head until that day arrived or create a page for random thoughts, which seemed kind of pointless. Also, while I do have some tasks/events that are particular to one specific day I also have many more that are specific to the week so a spread such as 7 days on one side and task notes on the other works better as otherwise I found myself constantly “migrating” tasks forward which was a bit time consuming but more felt like a failure. (Look what I didn’t manage to accomplish today!)

  22. Nancy B. says:

    I love the idea of a bullet journal. For the last two years, I’ve been using Moleskine Weekly Notebook (either 3×5 or 5×7) with days of the week on the left page and blank on the right for my TO DO list. I’ve used it as things to remember on the to do side and a record of things I might need to remember on the left – from dr appts and trips to when I washed the dog and the sheets. It’s worked out the best so far, but I still find I used my small yellow-lined pads to write the day’s ToDo and structure and shopping lists – I carry it with during the day. But a bullet journal in which I also write other notes from the day including books I’ve read, freelance projects I’ve worked on, exercise, meditation, even health issues, etc. would be really useful and satisfying, I think. Things like that I might even color code. If I get too elaborate it will only last a week. I loved this post and the links. Thanks.

  23. Erica says:

    I really enjoy decorating the top of each daily spread with washi tape. It makes my pages really pop. I use different washi for each week.

    And I totally felt the same way about collections. When I started, I thought I would never use collections. But then I ran into a book that would be a great Mother’s Day gift for my MIL and I thought – hey this is exactly what collections are for! So I started a gift ideas collection.

    I’m excited to check out some of the resources you mention to further improve on my bullet journal. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Oopy says:

    I’ve heard so much about this and am trying to wrap my brain around it. I am a type b personality overall and while I like organization and I am not super organized. I do homeschool and juggle lots of little stuff with my nearly 5 kids…so I am thinking this would be useful. I would also prefer to not take so many notes on my phone but write them on a concrete page. So all that to say, I want to try this out but still feel a little lost so I’ll continue my reading with the links you provided.

  25. Caitlin Mallery says:

    I did not know there was a method for how I filled my “life” notebooks. this sounds like what I do. This is only my second year doing it, but it really works for me, better than filling up my planner/calendar with all the details I need to remember. Every month I start a new head page and then fill pages following with life stuff: monthly goals, party planning, recipes I liked, quotes from whatever I am reading, webinar notes. Than if I need to look back I only have to remember what month it happened. I just picked up a notebook at TJMaxx and use that. I will have to learn more about the stuff here and start implementing it.

    • Linda says:

      Caitlin, I really like your “life” notebook plan better than the bullet journal, which has never worked for me. Yours is much simpler. Thanks!

  26. Marti Jordan says:

    The Bullet Journal became my new friend in the summer of 2015… and I love it! I’ve always been a “pen to paper” person and have struggled against getting everything into an electronic form as the digital age has raced ahead. That struggle is officially over for me with the “bujo” (as many afficionados fondly refer to it.)

    My suggestions are simple. Don’t fret over it. Make it work for you. If one of the modules from Ryder, the creator, doesn’t work for you, don’t use it. If you find something to add to it that you need, add it. If you love decorating, then decorate away. If you prefer the minimalist look, then by all means minimize.

    Most of all… enjoy!

  27. Morgan says:

    I’ve never heard of a bullet journal, but I just LOVE the idea! I’m a hue fan of cutesy journals and love a good pen. I’m going to delve into the idea of getting a new journal just for this. You’ve got me all excited now! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Anne Horsley says:

    I LOVE THIS!!! I must have been living under a rock lately as this is the first time I’ve heard of this, but it’s EXACTLY what I need! I have been attempting to reduce relying on my phone/tablet so much, and I’ve been wanting some way to sort/keep handy all my ideas and inspirations, to do’s , and reading challenge lists of course too 🙂 Thanks for the extra resources to learn more! I came across Boho Berry’s site and she’s got great inspirations too! http://www.bohoberry.com/category/bullet-journal/

  29. Valerie says:

    Just received my yellow Leuchtturm 1917 journal yesterday(yes Amazon delivered on Sunday). Stopped at Staples this morning purchased my India ink pens and my colored pens. I am ready to start bullet journal!

    Thank you for the post it funny I was nervous about starting but think I am jumping right in.

  30. Kelli says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Anne! While I have started using my google calendar to track my (and others’) appointments, I am definitely a pen-on-paper list maker for my daily tasks and things I want to remember. And I LOVE LOVE new journals and pens! I just usually start with them and don’t keep it up. My biggest reservation about trying a bullet journal was having lots of “old” (read – “completed”) tasks and items in it, and not being able to find anything. But you and everyone who has commented has given me hope and I’m ready to take the plunge. My bullet journal may end up being a book of lists of books I want to read and movies I want to watch, but even that will get rid of some of my piles of paper!

  31. ARBM says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of bullet journals! I’m a newbie too. I started with my bullet journal right before the new year (so I could get some practice in before I started “fresh” in 2016) and I’m loving it. I’m still working out the kinks on what is useful, and what I like to do or want to spend the time making, but that’s what it is all about. Finding what works, and then as life changes, adapting with it. I’ve found that browsing the Instagram posts #bulletjournal or #planwithmechallenge have really helped for inspiration and practical tips. I look forward to seeing more of your bullet journal as you figure it all out.

  32. Joce says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this idea! I am a compulsive list maker at heart but I get so overwhelmed with my multiple lists floating everywhere; it’s more hindering than productive. Maybe consolidating everything in a bullet journal is worth a try!

  33. Wyndi says:

    I’ve been looking into bullet journalling since I saw it in a previous post. I’m intrigued by the idea as I LOVE to keep a written list. I haven’t jumped in so far b/c I’m wondering if all the extra copying/drawing/etc. would be too much for me. I have been toying with trying to design my own sheet for efficiency’s sake. Do you have any thoughts about the work of recopying? I’d welcome thoughts from anyone who has been keeping a bullet journal for a while as well …

  34. Michelle Chalkey says:

    Your post came at the perfect time! I just came to the end of my favorite planner (doesn’t have dates) and have been struggling to find the next one. I’m excited to give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Hannelene says:

    I’m in my second year, and I LOVE it. This year I’m doing a fauxdori (that’s a whole other rabbit whole) with my bullet journal, and a month-by-month layout booklet – I just find it nicer to have the visual of a month spread over two pages rather than a list. Oh, and the monthly list is so motivating to me.

  36. You nailed it with number 5. I’ve been using a Bullet Journal since September (after trying every single app out there and still forgetting things) and it has changed SO MUCH over the past few months and evolved into something that is is just right for me. Be willing to try new things and you can really make it work well for you!

  37. Kristi says:

    I’ve never heard of a bullet journal before but this could be exactly what I’ve been looking for. Between this and your What Should I Read Next podcast, you’re becoming a great source of inspiration in my life this year! Thank you!

  38. Tellou says:

    I started mine a few months ago and I love the concept. Basically in my bag I had my Filofax and always an extra tiny notebooks to note all those ” to do” or “collections”. When I saw the bullet journal I thought I should give it a try and it works well for me. There’s everything is it: my blogging ideas, my collections, my voluntering activities and my to do lists. It’s still a bit messy, but somehow messiness in organisation is my style 😉

  39. Ashley says:

    I put most of my work into something visual for the entire family. Various boards on the fridge. Calenrwith everyone’s events, a running grocery list for everyone to add to, meal plans on the calendar, etc. Do you do something like that? I usually keep personal stuff in my head… Maybe not the best. But right now most of what I have going on involves my family and I don’t feel like a bullet journal would be a good fit. But it looks and sounds like fun.

  40. Kathryn says:

    I started one a little more than a year ago, but gave it up. Jumped back in after Christmas and have been loving it this time around!! I am NOT a good lister, so this has forced me to make a to do list and I actually get things done. Imagine that?! 🙂 I also use calendar printables – that layout is easier for me than just a list of dates.
    http://misszoot.com/2016-printable-bullet-journal-calendar-pages-are-here-free/

    I haven’t started collections pages, but that would be a good idea…a great place to store all the MMD book recommendations other than my Amazon cart. 😉

  41. I started using a bullet journal for the first time last week and I’ve managed to actually keep up with it! Its amazing how much more organised and productive i am, wish i had found out about bullet journaling years ago!

  42. Jenny says:

    I’m starting two of these – I’m a dispatcher/office manager/jill of all trades for a plumbing company so I wear a LOT of hats. This will be perfect to keep myself organized and on track – and it’ll be helpful for the other people in the office who need to follow up on my projects on the days I’m not there.

    I also have a direct sales business and two kids, so my personal one is going to be slightly more complex. But I love how flexible the concept is.

  43. Janet Fazio says:

    I really like this idea. I’ve been intrigued with different ways to increase productivity. Putting everything down in black and white (or an array of colors) seems like something that would work.

  44. Magdalene says:

    I love bullet journaling and how I am more productive. I started at the beginning of the year. It feels liberating to have all your lists or collections in one notebook. I especially like the month tracker on habits that I wanted to improve upon . The customization is alluring because you can make it anyway you want. It has given me a chance to stop and reflect what is working and what is not. I am not just handling crises after crises but I see advancement. Boho Berry website has good ideas on bullet journaling too.

  45. Stacey says:

    So happy to read this. I am loving mine too. I’m a few months in and still tweaking in a major way almost every week but that feels ok for some reason. I use the same journal and am in love! Can’t wait to spend time with your links…

  46. Hansi says:

    A bullet journal might be what I am doing without knowing it. Thank you for giving me a name for it. One question: How well do your pens work with left handers? Do they smear as your hand goes across the writing? I want pretty colors, but it is so hard to find pens trhat don’t smear.

    • Anne says:

      I’m not a lefty so I can’t speak to this exactly—-but I tried to replicate the smear effect by smudging the ink as I wrote. Don’t try the pilots but the staedtlers may work.

  47. CB says:

    I’m inspired. I have a monthly diary but tend to keep my daily list on post-it notes. Got a cute little pocket notebook that was in my stocking and am giving it a try. I’ve just added a section at the back for “someday to dos” and one for errands to run in town. The paper is quite thin and my preferred Stabilos bleed through a bit so I’ll just write on one side.

    I see the appeal of one notebook to rule them all but as an academic, I have way too many notes for that and like to keep things by subject so I’m not dragging everything around with me on planes, trains, and buses.

  48. Glenny says:

    great idea!! I’ve been having problems just getting things organized and it’s been bugging me! I should start doing this to help me with my struggles as a new blogger <3

  49. Cynthia Harris says:

    You’ve so inspired me Anne that I’ve just ordered my first bullet journal! Now I’m worried about having yet another place to jot down appointments, wish lists, shopping lists, important things and trivial things. I need ONE place for all of this. I currently use my phone calendar and various apps including Evernote. My phone is always with me and it’s lightweight… However, my love of pen and paper and the old-fashioned way, AND the encouragement from users of this system have instilled enough confidence in me that I’m keen to give it a serious try. Thank you for an incredibly inspiring website – it’s one of the few I come to all the time.

      • Cynthia Harris says:

        Anne, While I am waiting for my new journal to arrive in the post, I’ve set up a standard exercise book as a practice run and it’s working beautifully! From doing this, I realised that I did not have an important appointment (which I knew was in September) recorded anywhere! So phoned to find out what it was and now it’s safe in the journal. Writing things down is making all the difference, and seeing everything on a one-page spread. I can’t praise this system highly enough. Only downside may be the new hardcover Leich… book may be a bit heavy for me to carry all the time in my bag, so I’m looking at the softcover one but with fewer pages, not sure if it will be enough for the year.

  50. Tracy says:

    I am starting my bullet journal on March 1st. I appreciate your pared-down approach because too much detail at the beginning would derail me. Honestly, I looked at blogs where they hand-wrote a year’s worth of tiny calendars in the front and I thought, “That’s what a printer and rubber cement are for!” I am working out what my basic needs are in a notebook I already had (a sort of dry-run) and will put them in my new schmancy notebook when it comes tomorrow.

  51. stephany says:

    hi! i just came across your blog from The Introverted Mom’s Facebook link to your “it’s more than a kid hangover” post. i am a new follower!
    not only am i an introvert, but i also LOVE my bullet journal. i started last year (in a $1 target composition notebook, because i didn’t know if i would stick with it) and have continued this year in a new moleskin! i have always loved analog ways of tracking my days…we also use a shared ical calendar for our family on our phones.
    anyway, just wanted to leave a comment!

  52. Leah says:

    Hi Anne,
    I just received my Leuchtturm dotted journal today (I’m in love!), but was sad to find that my Pilot Precise V5 pens bleed through to the next page (boo!). Do you have that problem with the Staedtlers? Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      Bummer! My pilots don’t bleed through (maybe it’s the way I hold my pen?) The Staedtlers use a little less ink, and to be extra sure you’ll see less ghosting if you get them in grey.

  53. After reading your post I just KNEW I was going to love this idea. I’m now a week in and was absolutely right. I’m a list person, so a regular planner’s boxy calendar approach never appealed to me. I also adore the idea of keeping these little guys and looking back over my life when I’m older.

    I do have a general question, though. For the collections, are they mixed in with your daily posts or do you put them towards the back of the journal? My organized nature cringes at the idea of them intermingling with the daily posts, but I guess that’s what the index is for?

    • Cynthia says:

      My question exactly! I’ve just started my new journal but need to get this settled before I go on. What do others do?

    • Anne says:

      I mix them in. That’s what the index is for. 🙂 (And it IS freeing not to have to worry about exactly how much space to leave for each thing.)

      • Cynthia says:

        Thanks! I like that method too. In the end, I have reserved a few pages in the middle for collections, with coloured tabs.

        • Kelli says:

          I was thinking of starting at the front with my daily & monthly logs and then adding collections starting from the last page working backwards. That seems like it might work and make them easy to find, but then I’m still waiting to get my new beautiful journal to start it all in 🙂

  54. Lori East says:

    I am juuuust starting with my bullet journal. I did hold off buying a new book for the first week or two, but today I am trolling pen-and-paper sites. I didn’t really need an excuse for a new book (or a new pen), but it’s handy to have the excuse just the same.

    So far, so good with the journal. I actually feel like I am better able to focus on today without all the clutter of “I’ve got to remember to do that next month/next week/next year,” if that makes sense? I am, though, still working on checking back in with the journal at the end of the day. It’s logical to do, I just need to build the habit. (I will admit, too, that I do still use my Erin Condren lifeplanner, just as a safety net until I feel like I hit my groove with the bullet journal. I live in fear of forgetting a major commitment.)

    All that said, I do use Google calendar for my family so we all know where we have to be when. My son is a senior, so while I don’t actively homeschool him anymore, he can put his daily schedule there so I know what he has going, and all three of us know where everybody else is at any given time.

    As I said, so far so good with the bullet journal, though, so…YAY!

  55. Sammy says:

    Thank you for this article! I read up more with the links you provided about this journaling/organizing method and I think I really could benefit from it. I ordered my journal today! I’m really excited to start journaling!

  56. Lora Bryant says:

    I’ve intended to read this post for days now and finally got around to it. I’m seriously contemplating giving this a try. Although I love my digital calendar, I haven’t found an app that works for me for task lists and note-taking. I still find myself writing on post-it notes all the time. When I do manage to take some notes or put some tasks in my phone, I rarely go back to them to monitor my progress. If anyone else is in the same boat about wanting to start bullet journaling for tasks/notes but keep your digital calendar, are you seeing any conflicts with trying to manage the two systems in two different ways? Thanks for all the handy tips and resources!

  57. Tara says:

    Hi Anne! You mentioned that you had created a weekly layout that was working well for you. This seems to be the one piece to the bullet journal that I am struggling to nail down (well, and a massive amount of future appointments/events). Are you still using a weekly layout and would you be willing to share a photo of yours here or on IG? Thanks for always providing so much good stuff. Between your MMD Kindle deals, blog posts and your podcast, you keep my days happy, happy!

  58. ja says:

    Hi! Its great to see there is still some love for hand writing. For me it just has something that typing cannot substitute.

    I have been journaling for 15 years and using to-do lists in a separate notebook for 10 years now. It turns out the system i developed over time is somewhat of a very crude version of the bullet journal system, but it includes the migration feature.

    I would recommend everyone to keep using it, and most importantly, keep it simple; I´ve seen some pictures of extremely decorated journals with a lot of letter types and stuff. While it looks awesome, there is a strong chance youll get tired of doing that and stop using the journal. It also takes away the raw power of the system, which is, in my opinion, is the ability to download your thoughts on paper as soon as they happen. You should be able to be completely free in your notebook, its for you and just you, not for showing off.

    If you keep using it, i can guarantee something very powerfull will happen over time: eventually you´ll come to realize that almost EVERYTHING you write down will get done.
    in my case, i came to this realization around the 3rd year of using it.

    Regards from Mexico

    • ja says:

      And by get done, i mean things you didn´t even remember you wrote down. That is also why i mostly try to write constructive and positive things in this notebooks and avoid writing down any kind of negative stuff.

  59. Raynore Jones says:

    I really really need to see you cobbled together daily sheet up close and personal. It looks like what I need

  60. Jena says:

    I ‘ve been been bullet journaling since March, and I absolutely love it, it’s great! I love the Leuchtturm notebooks! Mine is Orange, and I’ll be moving into an olive green one soon! I’m really stoked about it. It’s really helped me get my mind together!

  61. Sarah A says:

    I have been struggling with getting organized lately. I recently went back to work after 5 years off and cannot keep up with all the irons in the fire. I’ve been contemplating removing some things….letting them fall to the wayside, but those are the things I really care about. I keep thinking “if Beyoncé can do it….” and find a way to get one more thing done. I’ve looked at goal setting tools, planning tolls, and calendars galore. However, none of them are working for me. I deal in distractions all day long at work, and then dread starting anything because I know I’ll be interrupted. This is the first I’ve heard of bullet Journaling and I’m excited to give it a try!

  62. Lisa says:

    Hi, Anne: I love your post about bullet journaling. I’ve been doing it since October and now find myself faced with the momentous task of starting a new journal for 2017. I also purchased the dotted Leuchtturm this time around, but the dots intimidate me. Do you have any tips or helpful hints for working with those dots? My handwriting tends to go off the rails. Oh, and this is the most amazing system ever. I am now SUPER organized, and I can’t even describe the feeling of deep satisfaction when I make a big honking X through a completed bullet! Thanks for everything, and Happy New Year!

  63. Susan Kotch says:

    I love my bullet journal – I use it to keep track of daily tasks, and also to write down my observations and feelings about what’s happening in my life. As a writer, I also have pages of story ideas that I write as they pop into my head. I also keep a spread called a “future log” where I list upcoming events that I need to remember for the months ahead. It is now my lifeline, and I take it everywhere in my purse. I use a Leuchtturm 5×8 inch dotted (https://www.leuchtturm1917.us/notebook-medium-a5-hardcover-249-numbered-pages.html) and absolutely love it. For pens, my “go to” is Sakura Micron 02 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K3KRJGA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) which I buy in bulk on Amazon. Love them! While I’ve also been a post-it list maker, I now find that being able to keep my thoughts and journaling as well as tasks in a book that I can look back on has been a wonderful way to document my accomplishments and growth as well. So much better than throwing a post-it into the trash each day! (Oh, I bought one of those polaroid ZIP printers for myself this past Christmas, and I add pictures to my journal as well.) It’s really my “life” book at this point…. Enjoy your bulleting!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.